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How you can become greener in retirement?

23rd May 2022

Climate change has had many effects on the planet with glaciers shrinking, plant and animal habitats changing, trees flowering sooner, sea levels rising, a loss of sea ice and more intense heat waves. This is why climate change has become a big political theme in recent years and has seen the UK government pledge to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and along with other G7 nations such as the US, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and Italy to commit to halving collective emissions by 2030.

Changing your way of life to become more eco-friendly is getting increasingly important and there are lots of ways you can become greener. It doesn’t matter how old you are as you can become greener at any stage of your life.

This guide takes a look at the different ways people can become greener in retirement and below are some things you can do to make sustainable changes.

Ways to become greener in retirement

It doesn’t matter if you’re a teenager or an older adult, it is possible to become more eco-friendly in different stages of your life. It can be something as simple as using a recyclable water bottle to a bigger investment like using eco-friendly stairlifts. Here are some of the ways to become greener in retirement.


As you get older and enter retirement, and are perhaps spending more time at home, you may notice that there are some items in your home which are old and are even getting a bit worn. Instead of just chucking these items in the bin you can instead upcycle them, which is where old products get modified and receive a second life as they are turned into a new product.

There are lots of products that you can modify and something that Antonia Edwards, the author of Upcyclist, says is to upcycle furniture using reclaimed wood.

She says: “Upcycled furniture is so-called, either because it’s built from waste materials, or because the furniture itself has been repaired and revived.

“Reclaimed or ‘salvaged’ wood may have already led one life as something else; the walls of a barn, a wooden pallet, an outdoor chair or a railway sleeper. Some designers reclaim waste offcuts from factories that manufacture wood products, while others make use of fallen trees and branches, collected from the forest floor.

“A multitude of makers are selling furniture made from repurposed wood.”

There are lots of items which can be upcycled and below are just a few examples:

  • Upcycling tables
  • Upcycling clothes
  • Upcycling cushions
  • Upcycling bedding
  • Upcycling chairs
  • Upcycling sofas

Future-proofing your home

There are typical renovations that people can make to their home to keep it up to date for a few years, but one of the best solutions lies in ‘future-proofing’. This means making changes to your home that will keep it relevant for decades to come.

There are many ways you can future-proof your home and a fast-growing trend is with smart technology as this means homeowners can control things such as heating, lighting, surveillance systems and even appliances such as smartphones and tablet computers.

You can make your home more energy-efficient by replacing outdated appliances which not only can help with monthly savings, but newer appliances have been built to last longer too. This also applies to replacing single-paned windows with double-paned, energy-efficient windows.

You can also create a more eco-friendly house by reducing its carbon footprint and this is a trend which is rapidly improving in popularity. Using 100% acrylic, low VOC paints are more eco-friendly, odourless, and less toxic to occupants. Installing solar energy systems is another eco-friendly step you can take to future proof your home.

Alexa Erickson, who writes for the Family Handyman blog, talks about why opting for solar panels is something you should consider when trying to make your home more eco-friendly: “Incorporating solar into your home is a great way to make your home greener by reducing your carbon footprint and completely slashing your utility bill. Photovoltaic solar panels are getting cheaper and more efficient, so consider the switch!”

Another consideration when future-proofing your home is to think about adapting your home for when you get old. Mobility issues are something that can commonly occur when you get older and aids such as stairlifts, a walk in shower enclosure or widened doorways are all things you can consider adding to your home. If you are re-modelling or making some kind of change to your home, it’s important that you not only consider how the extra space can be utilised now but how it might be used a decade or two down the road.

READ MORE: Future proofing your home

Using public transport

One of the best ways you can become greener is to use public transport more as this will result in fewer vehicles on the road, cutting down emissions in the process. Utilising public transport is something that becomes even more attractive when you are over 60 as you can enjoy concessions.

From discounts on rail journeys to a free bus pass, there are plenty of reasons why you should consider using public transport more often during your retirement.

There are two main national public transport concessions which are available to older people and these are a free older person’s bus pass that means you can travel free on local buses in England. The second main national public transport concession is the Senior Railcard, an annual savings card, that will allow you to make big savings on most rail fares across the UK. If you are a disabled older person, you can enjoy various transport concessions across the rest of the UK.

If you are a resident in London you can get the London Freedom Pass during your retirement and this gives you free or discounted travel across the transport networks in London, including trams, national rail, the underground, buses and river services.

You should also contact the individual coach and train operators to see if they offer discounts for older people who are 60 and over. The National Express offers a Senior Coachcard and this offers a third off your travel throughout the year.

READ MORE: How accessible are the UK’s train stations?

Reduce food miles, waste and packaging

If you have already retired or are planning to retire in the near future, then another great way you can become greener is to reduce food miles, waste and packaging.

You may find that in retirement you have more time to go food shopping, prepare meals and take up hobbies that you previously couldn’t do because of your day job. One hobby you can take up is gardening and you could aim to grow your own fruit and vegetables which saves you from having to buy products that may have been shipped in. Alternatively, if you don’t have a garden or an allotment, you can look to buy seasonal produce and buy from local growers and farmers’ markets.

By either growing your own fruit and veg or eating seasonally, you can reduce the environmental impact of your meals. This is something that Jo, who is the author of the Thrifty Sustainability blog, has previously talked about and she says: “If you grow your own food, you are helping the environment. You dramatically cut your food’s carbon footprint, by cutting down on the energy use, waste and emissions that the food industry production, refrigeration and transportation requires.”

Attract bees and plant a tree in your garden

Sticking with the gardening theme, if you want to spend more time in your garden during your retirement then there are lots of things you can do to make it more eco-friendly.

Planting a tree or a few trees if you have room is a great option as they clean the air we breathe and can help us tackle the effects of climate change as they absorb carbon dioxide and store it before releasing oxygen back into the air. Trees also provide homes for species such as insects, birds, flora and fungi.

Although to some people they may seem like just fuzzy flying insects that dart among the flowers, bees play an integral part in maintaining the planet. Where trees and woods are essential to filter our air, bees are vital to pollinate the food we need to survive and pollinate many of the trees and flowers that provide habitats for wildlife. With this in mind, something that people in retirement could do is to make their gardens attractive to bees. Honeybees visit only one type of flower in any one foraging trip and it is wise to plant large clumps or ‘drifts’ of single species such as catmint, field scabious and hyssop. March to September are key months for honeybees so early and late-flowering plants are seen as especially valuable.

READ MORE: Tips for making a wildlife-friendly garden

Try to walk as much as you can

If you live close to a town or city centre or are near to some shops, then walking to go shopping is a greener way than shopping online. Clothes are shipped across the world and have a significant carbon footprint and will often come packaged in plastic.

Naturally, there are lots of products you have to buy online as you cannot carry them, but even just shopping in person occasionally can reduce your carbon footprint. If you suffer from mobility problems, then you will need your mobility scooter or walking frame to venture outdoors.

Walking is really good for you and even a daily walk that is just a 15-minute stroll to the shops will benefit you.

READ MORE: The UK’s best walks for older people

Learn to sew and fix your clothes

If you are looking for a new hobby during your retirement, you may want to take up sewing as not only is it a good stress-reliever and beneficial for your hand-eye coordination, but it also means that clothes which are missing buttons and have slight tears in them can be fixed and don’t need to be chucked out.

How many shirts or items of clothing do you have at the back of the wardrobe and don’t wear because they are missing a button. Sewing a button on is a simple skill and there are lots of online tutorials which you can follow.

If you learn to sow you can also make old clothes fit. So, some trousers or a skirt that might be too big can be taken in so that they fit you which saves you having to get rid of them or having to pay a tailor or seamstress to do it for you.

Eve Tokens from The Creative Curator site talks more about the three big benefits of sowing: “Being able to sew enables us to make the most out of existing items that need minor repairs for a longer life span.

“Sewing is a creative skill which can help us feel more creative.

“It can be more budget-friendly than buying something new, which has a better impact on the environment.”

READ MORE: Winter activities for older people

Donate clothes

If you have clothes that you just won’t wear but they are still in decent condition, then you can donate them to a charity shop as they will be sold to someone who will wear it. It might be a case that in your retirement you are looking to get a new wardrobe or are having a clear-out as your children have moved out, whatever the scenario, you can donate clothes or old toys to a charity shop instead of disposing of them.

Not only will this mean the clothes or toys don’t need to be chucked out, but they will be going to a home where the items will be used.

Ways you can become greener

To recap, there are lots of different things you can do to become greener in retirement and these are just some of the ways you can do this.

  • Upcycling
  • Future-proofing your home
  • Using public transport
  • Reduce food miles, waste and packaging
  • Attract bees and plant a tree in your garden
  • Try to walk as much as you can
  • Learn to sew and fix your clothes
  • Donate clothes

For more tips, guides, and advice, make sure to visit our news page.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.